Dartmouth United Outreach spreads “Christmas magic” at toy drive

Dec 20, 2023

The yard was filled with bags stuffed with hundreds of toys to hand out Dec. 19 at the YMCA parking lot for the Dartmouth United Outreach toy drive. The toys were all chosen with care, handpicked according to the children’s wish lists. 

Lyn Dillies, “toy facilitator” and director of Dartmouth United Outreach, estimated that they collected over 700 toys this year. 

“It’s a massive effort, but a labor of love,” Dillies said. 

As a partner of the YMCA Full Plate Project, a program founded during the pandemic to fight hunger in southeastern Massachusetts, Dartmouth United Outreach also delivers food year round to families in need.

“Our mission is all about providing hope to people,” she said. “Along with feeding people, we feed them hope, the hope that things will get better.”

The toy donations will brighten the holidays for some 560 local children, according to Debbie Ashworth, co-chair for Dartmouth United Outreach. 

“Some of these people wouldn’t have Christmas for their kids,” Ashworth said, speaking to the importance of the toy drive. 

Ken Walsh, the lead pastor of the church Conquerors for Christ, said his congregation donated 200 toys for this year’s toy drive. 

For the past three years, Walsh’s church has been donating bread to the Dartmouth United Outreach food drive. The church also sent volunteers to the Fill-A-Bus toy drive held Dec. 16 at the Dartmouth Target.

“We’ve always been looking for ways to serve our community better,” Walsh said. 

Stuart Brown, a volunteer at Dartmouth United Outreach, said the toy drive has “grown considerably” since it began in December 2020. 

“It brings some smiles on people’s faces who can no longer get gifts for their kids, let alone food,” Brown said. “The public should know that food insecurity is just incredibly apparent throughout Dartmouth.”

Even after the pandemic, Brown says hunger is still a “critical issue,” and that the more people can volunteer, lend financial support and donate food, the better.